Zarb al-Masal (Idioms)

One of the chapters in Book 7 of Farsi is titled Zarb al-Masal, which introduces you to the world of Persian Idioms and other proverbs with their meanings. There are two things I noticed while learning Farsi, that Persians really love and that is poetry and idioms. They love to bust out idioms or lines of poetry where ever they find it relevant and for this reason they seem to have tons of them. There was once a taxi driver I was sitting with who literally knew lines after lines of poetry from different poets, both old school and recent ones.

The home work we had for this specific chapter was to translate idioms or phrases that are common in our language into Persian. This turned out to be really funny, as people were translating from Urdu, English, Swahili, Arabic etc.

These are a few I said in class and a few others I tried to translate as well:

  • Gurbay, Khaleh-ye Sheer Ast (Urdu: Billi Sher Ki Khala Hai)
  • Tamam Na Shodeh, Ta Khanum e Chaaq, Khawanandgi Mi Kuneh (English: It isn’t over, till the fat lady sings)
  • Zindagi Be-Geer (English: Get a Life)
  • Duroogh-gu Duroogh-gu, Shalwarash Mi-Suzeh (English: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire)
  • Duroogh Mi-Geh, Kalaagh Gaaz Mi-Zaneh (Urdu: Jhoot Bolay, Kavva Kaatay)

1 thought on “Zarb al-Masal (Idioms)

  • How can I find/buy a Persian Zarb ol’ masal? I bought one decades ago in Tehran. It was published by Haim, who also published Persian/ English and English/ Persian dictionaries. It was filled with the kind of quotes from Persian literary classics that you refer to. I became separated from my copy when I left Iran. I’m dying to replace it. Please help.
    Charles Duncan

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